My brother, Carl, was 40 when he received his new heart. It arrived just under a year after being placed on the waiting list. I saw him a couple of month before surgery when he came to Vancouver with his two young daughters and wife. Watching this man who introduced me to hiking and once cycled across Canada was humbling. He maintained his good humour even when fifty feet of walking caused him to become breathless; he carried on, finding his footing while mortality dogged him every step of the way.
Finally, someone who was on the organ donor registry did pass on. A man, 10 years my brother’s senior, died in a car crash. The match was good and Carl was given a precious gift.
Carl just celebrated his 55th birthday. Although on anti-rejection drugs for life, he is once again a healthy man who cycles, cross country skis and works in the garden.
He tells me that the average life span of a transplanted heart is 24 years. The longest anyone has lived is 30. At fifteen years and going strong, he aims to beat that record.